Several years ago, Mike and I chose to move our business into our home. We realized our employees could all work remotely, and be happier doing so, and we would save several thousand a month in expenses. That decision allowed us to add a pool and outdoor living space in our backyard and spend much more time with our children. We soon learned that it also meant we needed to set up spaces in our home dedicated specifically for work.
The kitchen counter and outdoor pool bar that I had once considered a desk were wreaking havoc on my back. And the makeshift laptop desk I created out of a lumbar pillow was proving to cause wrist pain after typing on the couch for hours. Not to mention all the distractions that came with the kids being home 24/7 for virtual schooling.
So, I carved a little space in my room where I could work both more ergonomically and moreefficiently. To create this space, I visited my local Staples store. I am in there all the time using their shipping services and I often browse their aisles for fun while I am there.
I always find the coolest gadgets and most beautiful notebooks and desktop accessories at Staples. One that I came across recently was this Productivity Cube. It’s a total-game changer especially if you like to batch your work- which I highly recommend!
The productivity cube is basically a fancy timer with pre-set time intervals of 5, 10, 20, and 30 minutes. Simply flip the cube so that the amount of time you would like is face up and turn the timer on. I use this to limit the time I spend on things like checking email, setting up my editorial calendar, and going on social media. Having that alarm keeps me focused and on task which ultimately makes my day much more efficient.
Another item that I picked up at Staples is my Bluetooth keyboard. I was beginning to have some wrist pain and I found some research that showed that working on an actual keyboard can help reduce strain on the wrists. For me the keyboard has really come in handy.
I also enjoy having a raised screen which I accomplished by adding a simple laptop stand to my desk set up. It allows me to sit up straight which helps my back and it also allows for better angles for virtual meetings. Plus, the laptop stand raises my computer enough that I can also use it like a standing desk when I feel like I have been sitting too long.
Beyond making my home office space more ergonomic and efficient I also found ways to help me stay more organized. Running two businesses + a household of seven (soon to be 8), staying organized is a necessity. I am a big fan of file folders because, as I mentioned previously, I love to batch work. Having different folders for the different projects I am working on helps me to better focus on one task at a time.
I also purchased this beautiful clear acrylic calendar which is less obtrusive than the typical giant white calendars that you typically see in an office space. I keep track of the kids' events, family appointments, our travel plans, and work projects all on the same calendar. To me, there is no separation in work/life, but rather a harmonious blend that allows give and take where needed. Sometimes, like this month, life is heavily focused on family whereas the past several months were a little more business heavy.
Speaking of work/life balance I thought I would share a few tips that have helped Mike and I adjust to the work from home lifestyle.
This allows you to work with minimal distractions which so you can get more done in less time. I would also invest in tools and supplies that can help you get your work done and stay organized as well.
This is a tip I learned early on, but one that has taken me several years to implement. Truth is when you have set hours your spouse and children (or roommates etc.…) will be less likely to interrupt you because they understand that there is a timeframe in which your focus is on them and not your work. Setting office hours also helps you avoid burnout. I also believe taking time away from your work actually helps you to think more creatively and it is when most of my best ideas have occurred.
It is easy to get lost in your work and take your snacks/lunch straight to your desk, but I have found getting up and taking a brief walk or taking my snack/lunch outside (and away from screens) can be so good for my mental health.
When I am feeling sluggish, I like to head outdoors or at least open up my windows. The natural light and fresh air can do wonders for my energy levels and my mood.
I believe one of the best ways to be more efficient while working from home is to batch your work. This simply means to focus on one specific task at a time, and you do this by setting timers so that you don’t get lost in your work. Ideally, you set these tasks up in a schedule and you learn how many minutes you need to dedicate to each task to move the needle forward each week and then you schedule in these blocks of time into your work week. This even includes things like checking email and responding to dms and comments on social media.
Hopefully, you will be able to incorporate some of these tips, tools, and productivity gadgets into your work from home life to make your time at home more enjoyable and productive. You can find all of the products I listed above and so much more at your local Staples store. Click here to see where the closest Staples store location is to you. I also recommend checking out their Possibilities book which has even more helpful tips and great products for working from home.
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